Inside Sonko’s battle to kick judges out of his graft case

By Nancy Gitonga On Tue, 21 Jan, 2020 12:05 | 2 mins read
Mike Sonko
Nairobi Governor (in red shirt) at the Milimani Law Courts for his bail ruling on December 11, 2019. PHOTO | DAVID NDOLO | PD

The High Court’s Anti-Corruption Division faces a dilemma over which of its judges will hear and determine Mike Sonko’s application challenging his prosecution.

There are only two judges at the division, Justice Mumbi Ngugi and Justice John Onyiego, and Sonko wants both to recuse themselves from hearing his case.

Already, on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, Justice Mumbi disqualified herself from the case on the grounds that she cannot hear the application since the matter touches on two other judges.

Those two other judges are: Justice Onyiego and Justice Grace Ngenye Macharia. Justice Macharia works in the criminal division of the High Court.

If the two other judges recuse themselves from the matter as the Nairobi governor wants, there will be no one left in the Anti-Corruption Division to hear Sonko’s application.

As of now, the Chief Justice David Maraga cannot constitute a bench to hear Sonko’s application since the two judges in the Anti-Corruption Division are not wanted by Sonko and the bench requires an even number.

On Tuesday, when Justice Mumbi recused herself, she directed the parties to appear before the principal judge on January 29, for further directions.

In his application that was filed long before he was arrested and prosecuted on December, Sonko wanted the three judges out, saying he would not get a fair hearing because they had already pronounced themselves on similar matters.

Before his arrest on December 6, 2019, Sonko had had issues with the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) since they had summoned him several times and he anticipate he would be arrested and prosecuted.

Justice James Makau of the High Court’s Constitutional Court handled Sonko’s EACC application. Following an application by the EACC, Justice Makau took the matter to the Anti-Corruption Division after anti-graft agency said that the issues on Sonko’s petition involved corruption.

Justice Macharia had handled Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s matter while Justice Mumbi had dealt with the matter of Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal while Justice Onyiengo handled Sonko’s matter when it was first filed in court and he declined to issue conservatory orders stopping his prosecution until the case is heard and determined.

Sonko gripe with the judges is that they refused to prohibit indicted governors from accessing their offices following graft cases.

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